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Jones v. Blige

558 F.3d 485 (2009)

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Jones v. Blige

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

558 F.3d 485 (2009)

Facts

Music producers Leonard Jones and James White (plaintiffs) claimed that Mary J. Blige’s (defendant) song “Family Affair” infringed their song “Party Ain’t Crunk.” “Family Affair” was released as part of Blige’s album No More Drama, which sold over two million copies. Blige wrote the lyrics alongside her brother and a team of writers and recorded her vocals over music created by Andre Young. “Party Ain’t Crunk” was created by Jones and White and recorded by an aspiring rap artist named Tim Acker (aka Benevolence). “Party Ain’t Crunk” was part of a demo CD that White submitted to numerous record companies, including Blige’s publisher, Universal Music Group, Inc. (defendant). Andy McKaie, Senior Vice President of Artists and Repertoire for Universal Music Enterprises (a division of Universal Music Group), allegedly received and opened the package, decided to pass on the demo CD, and returned the contents to White. When White heard Blige’s song “Family Affair” on the radio, he believed that it infringed his own song “Party Ain’t Crunk” and filed suit for infringement. The district court granted summary judgment to Blige and Universal after finding that Jones and White were unable to show that Blige had access to “Party Ain’t Crunk” and that, in any case, Blige had demonstrated that “Family Affair” was the result of independent creation. Jones and White appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cole, J.)

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